Songstress Tori Amos contributed her haunting, original song "Flicker" to the new documentary Audrie & Daisy. We sat down with Amos to find out more about the documentary and the conversation she's urging parents to have with their kids about rape culture and cyberbullying.
Audrie & Daisy tells the tragic story of two teen girls, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, who were sexually assaulted, then cyberbullied and shamed online. Sadly Pott was so traumatized by the experience she took her own life.
Tori Amos, herself a rape survivor, says she felt totally numb after watching this movie. But when the numbness wore off, she created a battle plan.
"The movie is a call to arms. Bonni [Cohen] and Jon [Shenk] made a powerful film, and being a part of it, being a part of Daisy's army, is something that happened because I was so offended by the film and realized that I can't look away," says Amos.
Amos says moms have been coming up to her after screenings and saying that sexual assaults like the ones shared in the movie have two separate frightening components.
"Not only is the sexual assault survivor having to deal with the shock and pain and betrayal of having to live through it, carry it through her entire life, working through it, hopefully cross from victimhood into survivorhood, but the second part, what this generation is having to deal with, is photographs being taken. Audrie was unconscious and didn't know what happened until she got to school. Her mother didn't know what happened to her until after she committed suicide."
Amos says the Facebook generation may be skilled when it comes to using technology, but some are lacking in empathy and don't understand the definition of abuse.
"These were her friends who ripped off her clothes, assaulted her, drew all over her, then took photos and put them online. Everybody in Audrie's world in that high school saw the pictures, and then she thought her life was over. The people in the film said they weren't trying to be mean — they thought it was funny.
"What really began to make itself clear when watching the movie is how our kids define abuse. If they didn't think what they did was abuse, then we, as adults, have failed. Our kids know how to use technology, but they don't have the emotional maturity to process and understand what abuse is. They equate what they did with funny."
Amos is the mother of a 16-year-old daughter and says the conversations with her about these topics are extensive. "It's ongoing. And my husband is involved in these conversations too. We need dads involved with their daughters and dads involved with their sons."
Audrie & Daisy is a powerful film but difficult to watch at times, especially for moms. "Let's be real with each other. It's a tough watch, but it is a must-watch!" says Amos.
The inspiration for Amos' song "Flicker" came entirely from the film.
"Knowing that we lost Audrie and many others — boys and girls who committed suicide either because of sexual assault or bullying — the song had to acknowledge that some of our lights, who are so young, are being extinguished. Daisy, who is a phoenix out of the ashes with her tough journey that she’s been on for many years — that needed to be acknowledged. And the assault, which is in the first verse, and how neighbors and friends didn't want to get involved is in the third verse."
But things really clicked for Amos when she read the mantra that was written on the wall in Daisy's brother's room: Monsters are not born, they are made.
"That's when I paused the film, and then the muses screamed to me like the Valkyries, saying, 'Here we go, this is your way in.'"
Audrie & Daisy is now streaming on Netflix. If you want to start the conversation with your own kids, the filmmakers have created educational materials and discussion guides for parents and teachers that are available at AudrieandDaisy.com.
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